ADVANTAGES

"The link in G[ray].'s thought is not clear, since the causal connection implied could be with either the memorials or the texts in the previous stanza: man's reluctance to be forgotten after death could have caused either the inscriptions on the graves or the need to have texts on the graves to teach those still living how to consider death. But these two lines are ambiguous in themselves and could be read in three ways: 'For who, about to become a prey to dumb forgetfulness (= oblivion)'; 'For who ever resigned this being to dumb forgetfulness (= oblivion)'; and 'For who was already so much the prey of forgetfulness (= insensibility) as to resign' etc. The first of these readings seems most likely: for 'forgetfulness' as 'oblivion' see Spenser, Ruins of Time 377-8: 'And them immortal make, which els would die / In foule forgetfulnesse'; and Visions of Bellay i 3: 'the forgetfulnes of sleepe'. See also Par. Lost ii 146-51: 'for who would loose, / Though full of pain, this intellectual being, / Those thoughts that wander through Eternity, / To perish rather, swallowd up and lost / In the wide womb of uncreated night, / Devoid of sense and motion?'"

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